October 2014 Archives

New Package: mongodb_store

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From Nick Hawes via ros-users@

I would like to announce the release of a new suite of tools to enable the persistent storage, analysis and retrieval of ROS messages in a MongoDB database.

The mongodb_store package:


... provides nodes to store arbitrary ROS messages in a MongoDB database, query the database and retrieve messages, with helper classes in C++ and Python. Nodes are also available to provide rosbag-like functionality using the [same db format] (http://wiki.ros.org/mongodbstore#LoggingofTopics:mongodblog) and also [parameter persistence across system runs] (http://wiki.ros.org/mongodbstore#Parameterpersistence:config_manager.py).

Packages are available on Ubuntu for Indigo and Hydro, e.g.

  • ros-indigo-mongodb-log - The mongodb_log package
  • ros-indigo-mongodb-store - A package to support MongoDB-based storage and analysis for data from a ROS system, eg. saved messages, configurations etc
  • ros-indigo-mongodb-store-msgs - The mongodbstoremsgs package

These tools were developed by the STRANDS project to support the development, debugging and runtime introspection of long-term autonomous mobile robots, but we hope they will be useful to the ROS community more generally.

In the near future we plan to release tools for serving maps from mongodb_store and for logging streams of RGB-D data in a compressed format .

Note that there is an overlap in functionality between these tools and warehouse-ros. We developed our own solution as the existing packages appeared to be unsupported and special-purpose, but as this appears to be changing, we may want to look at combining these two packages.

For feedback, pull requests, feature requests and bug reports please go to: https://github.com/strands-project/mongodb_store/issues

Software Engineering Positions at FYS Systems

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From Michael Ferguson via ros-users@

FYS Systems is looking for software engineers with broad experience on real robot platforms and a deep background in one or more of the following areas: navigation, motion planning, robot perception, human-robot interfaces. We have multiple openings, for both junior and senior-level engineers, with both immediate start dates and throughout early 2015.

Required Skills:

  • BS or MS in Computer Science, Robotics, or a related field.
  • 1+ year of software engineering experience, or extensive software engineering experience in undergraduate or graduate program.
  • Experience with C++ and/or Python in a Linux Environment.
  • Experience in robot navigation, motion planning, perception, or human-robot interfaces.
  • Experience with Robot Operating System (ROS).

Nice To Haves:

  • Experience with MoveIt, SBPL and/or OMPL.
  • Experience with OpenCV or PCL.
  • Experience with web development.
  • Experience with CMake.

To apply, please visit: https://fyssystems.has-jobs.com/SoftwareEngineerSunnyvale/32999/0

Call for authors for a ROS Handbook

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From Anis Koubaa via ros-users@

I am coordinating with Springer publisher to edit a handbook on Robot Operating System. There are only a few books on ROS http://wiki.ros.org/Books which mainly represent a brief introduction to ROS and a few basic applications. This does not translate the huge amount of work being done in the community and I feel the need to have a complete reference on the topic.

The prospective handbook will cover ROS from foundations and basics to advanced research works from both academia and industry. Tutorials and research papers will both be sought. The book should cover several robotics areas including but not limited to robot navigation, UAVs, arm manipulation, multi-robot communication protocols, Web and mobile interfaces using ROS, integration of new robotic platform to ROS, computer vision applications, development of service robots using ROS, development of new libraries and packages for ROS, etc. Every book chapter should be accompanied with a working code to be put later in a common repository for the readers.

To express your interest to the handbook and your intention of a chapter proposal, I would like to invite you fill in the following form. The proposed chapters are just considered as an initial expression of interest and will be included in the handbook proposal. It does not mean any kind of commitment for the author at this stage. An official call for chapters with instructions and deadline will be announced soon.

Thank you and look forward to receive your feedback,


NavVis presents new large scale mapping technology: The impressive shipping exhibition at Deutsches Museum can now be explored online and in 3D.

NavVis utilizes a trolley that's equipped with three laser scanners and six cameras. As a human operator wheels that trolley through the area to be mapped, the scanners record the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the hallway while the cameras record panoramas. The software framework is based on ROS, which allowed for a very modular design, as Suat Gedikli, Chief Software Architect at NavVis, says. One of the main advantages of their mapping device is its efficiency: In contrast to Google's mapping trolley, the operator does not have to crouch to move out of the field of view of the panoramic camera. With the patented NavVis camera head, the six cameras are assembled in a way such that the trolley operator is in their blind spot and therefore not visible. Hence 360-degree panoramas can be continuously recorded while moving the trolley.


The start-up recently teamed up with Deutsches Museum to digitize their impressive shipping exhibitions, which were mapped in less than one hour. The result is a 3D map of the exhibition, overlaid with photos of every square inch of all the surfaces.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-09-_opt.png

Similar to Google Street View, their HTML5 based IndoorViewer allows people to virtually explore the museum online. Additionally, administrators can add content like text, images, video to various points on the map, which can then be accessed by users. This interactive feature also lets users do things like obtaining measurements between different points in the building (which is important for architects and in construction site monitoring applications).

NavVis, which was only founded in May of last year, is focused on public-oriented showcases and business-to-business applications. Felix Reinshagen, co-founder and managing director: "As the first step, our application is aimed at companies in the building management segment that are confronted with challenges such as documentation, inventory, path-finding and task management. We make our hardware, software and service available to them so that they can have their building and industrial plants digitized while handling the usage of their data according to their own requirements. An area the size of the Deutsches Museum is mapped and posted online within three working days for a four-figure amount."

From Paul Hvass, via ros-users@

Robotics and automation systems are increasingly reliant on both 2D and 3D imaging systems to provide both perception and pose estimation. Calibration of these camera/robot systems is necessary, time consuming, and often a poorly executed process for registering image data to the physical world. SwRI is continuing to develop the industrial calibration library to provide tools for state-of-the-art calibration with the goal to provide reliably accurate results for non-expert users. Using the library, system designers may script a series of observations that ensure sufficient diversity of data to guarantee system accuracy. Often interfaces to motion devices such as robots may be included to fully automate the calibration procedure.

More information can be found on the ROS-I blog post.

From Andreas Bihlmaier via ros-users@

Dear ROS community,

I'm pleased to announce http://wiki.ros.org/arni - a collection of tools for Advanced ROS Network Introspection.
From the wiki page:
"Advanced ROS Network Introspection (ARNI) extends the /statistics
features introduced with Indigo and completes the collected data with
measurements about the hosts and nodes participating in the network.
These are gathered from an extra node that has to run on each host
machine. All statistics or metadata can be compared against a set of
reference values using the monitoring_node. The rated statistics allow
to run optional countermeasures when a deviation from the reference is
detected, in order to remedy the fault or at least bring the system in a
safe state."

No modification of existing nodes is required in order to use the
monitoring features. Therefore, the barrier of entry is very low:
- See the arni tutorial
- git clone https://github.com/ROS-PSE/arni into your catkin_ws
- roslaunch arni_core init_params.launch
- start all your other nodes
- rosrun rqt_gui rqt_gui
- Plugins -> Introspection -> Arni-Detail
  (Click on an item (host, node, topic or connection) in the tree view
  to get more details and graphs in the other widget)
- Enjoy out of the box distributed metadata-based monitoring

If you want to use the more advanced features in your own ROS network,
see the documentation on how to write "specifications" and "constraints".

The documentation can be found in the wiki including the tutorials (http://wiki.ros.org/arni/Tutorials).

Please give feedback and report any bugs found.

Many thanks to my students that worked hard on this:
Matthias Hadlich, Matthias Klatte, Sebastian Kneipp, Alex Weber, Micha Wetzel

Groovy Galapagos EOL Complete

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As we have have now released indigo and are looking forward to Jade, it is time to retire Groovy. 

Groovy was first officially released at the end of 2012, but work toward the release had been started in early 2012.[1] During it's life cycle Groovy almost double the number of packages released reaching a maximum of 900. 

Reviewing the history of the rosdistro repository which contains the release metadata reveals that there was 2912 commits from 127 contributors over the history of the Groovy release. This represents the maintainers making the releases and does not count the many more contributors to the source code of the individual packages. There were commits on 612 different days over the 794 days tracked in this repository. This means on average there were releases of groovy packages more than 5 days per week. For a quick visualization of the activity on the repository we've put together a rendering of commits to the groovy subdirectory:These statistics only count catkin based releases, not the 178 rosbuild packages indexed separately.) 

ROS Groovy Galapagos Rosdistro Git Activity from OSRF on Vimeo.

As you may have already noticed, last week we disabled all the groovy jobs on the farm. We have kept them there for reference but do not intend to reenable them. Along those same lines, we can accept pull-requests to keep source builds working on groovy(such as  if a repository is relocated to a new host), but cannot accept pull-requests for new groovy releases. 

As always we'd like to pay trubute to the hundreds of people who put the time in to make groovy happen. It would not have happened without your efforts. 

Amazon Picking Challenge @ ICRA 2015

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From Joe Romano via ros-users@

Amazon Picking Challenge @ ICRA 2015

Greetings colleagues! We are excited to announce a new manipulation contest to be held at ICRA in May 2015 (http://icra2015.org) in Seattle, WA, USA.

This may be of particular interest to the ROS community since we are encouraging researchers to push their new developments into the open-source domain (as a requirement to be eligible for the available travel support and contest prizes). We hope this leads to the contribution of new and interesting work within ROS.


Amazon is able to quickly package and ship millions of items to customers from a network of fulfillment centers all over the globe. This wouldn't be possible without leveraging cutting-edge advances in technology. Amazon's automated warehouses are successful at removing much of the walking and searching for items within a warehouse. However, commercially viable automated picking in unstructured environments still remains a difficult challenge. In order to spur the advancement of this fundamental technology we are excited to be organizing the first Amazon Picking Challenge at ICRA 2015. It is our goal to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions to some of the big problems in unstructured automation. To this end the contest will be awarding travel grants to ICRA 2015, practice equipment, and a large prize pool for the competition winners.

This competition will challenge entrants to build their own robot hardware and software that can attempt simplified versions of the general task of picking items from shelves. The robots will be presented with a stationary lightly populated inventory shelf and be asked to pick a subset of the products and put them on a table. The challenge combines object recognition, pose recognition, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, and error detection and recovery. The robots will be scored by how many items are picked in a fixed amount of time, with $26,000 in prizes being awarded. Participants will be encouraged to share and disseminate their approach to improve future challenge results and industrial implementations.

Find out more and sign up for email updates at the challenge website:
Or email us at:

ROSCon 2015 Location and Date Survey

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We had a great time at ROSCon 2014! (if you missed it we've posted videos of all the presentations online now at http://roscon.ros.org/2014/program/ )

Although it's a long way off still we need to look forward to when and where to hold the next instance. To help facilitate that process we'd like the communities feedback on what times and locations would best fit into their schedules. Please take a minute to let us know where you would be able to join us for our next event.  

There is a place for your name and email, but it's not required. 
From Georg Heppner via ros-users@

Hi everyone,

it is my pleasure to announce the schunk_svh_driver[1] package that you can use to control the Servo-electric 5-Finger Gripping Hand SVH [2] produced by Schunk.

The SVH is the first 5 finger hand which is produced in series and enables a wide range of complex motions due to its 1:1 scale and anthropo­morphic design. It provides an easy interface for standalone usage as well as integration into your project, comes with a detailed 3D-Model based on the orginal CAD Data and was tested extensively during several public demonstrations like the Automatica. A comprehensive documentation is already provided on the wiki and should allow you to easily use the package in your projects. At [3] you can see a Youtube video of the hand in combination with the LWA4P for which an early version of this package was used.

The package is currently available via git [4] and will soon be available via package manager. It was tested with hydro and indigo but should work under most circumstances.

Please let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions or any trouble using the package.

Best Regards
Georg Heppner

[1] http://wiki.ros.org/schunk_svh_driver
[2] http://mobile.schunk-microsite.com/en/produkte/produkte/servoelektrische-5-finger-greifhand-svh.html
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPtSbPzROrs
[4] https://github.com/fzi-forschungszentrum-informatik/schunk_svh_driver

Bridging the Gap between ROS and JAUS

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from Danny Kent, via ros-users@

Hello ROS Users!

One of the questions we've heard quite often lately is how to bridge the gap between ROS and JAUS. The Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) is an SAE International Standard for command and control of robots. A lot of people have built solutions based on ROS and need to quickly and reliably integrate those solutions using JAUS or vice versa. Previously, the learning curve to do has been difficult as there has been a lack of software to solve the problem. To assist with this problem we decided to build a software bridge between ROS and JAUS. We call it jROS and we've just finished our first cut at it!

jROS allows users to combine the power and flexibility of ROS with the maturity and robustness of the JAUS standard. The software consists of a set of ROS messages and services which are defined with respect to the JAUS message structure. This creates a 1-to-1 mapping of data in JAUS and ROS via our jROS Package. Adding the jROS topics to an existing ROS system is trivial. Once integrated, the ROS data can be exchanged with the JAUS network in a well-defined way. 

Take a closer look at jROS here: http://www.openjaus.com/products/jros

~Danny Kent, PhD

ROS Development Survey

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From Ryan Gariepy of Clearpath Robotics via ros-users@

Clearpath Robotics, an early adopter of ROS, is working with the Open
Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) to determine how the worldwide ROS
development community can best be supported. This may be via support
services, resources, or tools offered by the OSRF or community
members. Now is your opportunity to let us know what you need and how
Clearpath and OSRF can work together to best support you.
Please take a moment to complete this short survey:


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